President Trump is planning to declare a new national emergency in order to implement sweeping tariffs on Mexico over the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S., according to a draft document of the declaration reviewed by The Hill.
According to the document, the new emergency is necessary due to “the failure of the Government of Mexico to take effective action to reduce the mass migration of aliens illegally crossing into the United States through Mexico.”
The new emergency declaration would follow a February emergency declaration, which Trump used to justify sending National Guard troops to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the southern border.
The draft document signals the White House believes that imposing the tariffs under the February emergency declaration might not pass legal muster. But it remains unclear if a final decision has been made to invoke another emergency. The White House did not answer questions about the document.
Officials from the White House counsel’s office and the Justice Department floated the idea of a new declaration this week during a closed-door meeting with Republican senators.
The White House has said it plans to impose the tariffs under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to take unilateral action to counter an “unusual and extraordinary threat” in times of national emergency.
But a new national emergency is likely to spark widespread opposition on Capitol Hill from Republicans and Democrats who say Trump is overstepping his tariff authority and also could draw fresh legal challenges.
Trump last last week threatened to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods crossing into the United States, which would increase by another five percent every subsequent month, capping at 25 percent in October.
The draft declaration, which delineates how tariffs would be imposed on Mexican goods, mentions nine separate times Mexico’s “failure” to control northward migration from Central America.
“The United States Government has repeatedly asked the Government of Mexico to take responsibility and help reduce this mass migration. Yet the Government of Mexico has failed to take sufficient action to alleviate this problem, has allowed this mass incursion to increase, and has failed to secure its own southern border,” reads the draft.
A Mexican delegation led by Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard has been in Washington since Saturday and is seeking to reach a deal and stave off the tariffs that have been set to take effect Monday.
But the White House as of Thursday afternoon said the U.S. was still planning to go through with them.
“Position has not changed, and we are still moving forward with tariffs at this time,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in an email.
Mexican markets have been unstable since the announcement, as the Mexican economy is heavily dependent on exports to the United States.
Mexican manufacturing shares value chains with U.S. manufacturing, with products crossing the border as many as eight times before being assembled for sale to the final consumer.
Democrats and some key Republicans who have voiced opposition to the tariffs have said they may take legislative action in an attempt to stop them.
“If the President does declare a national emergency and attempt to put these tariffs into place, I will introduce a resolution of disapproval to stop his overreach,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) in a press release Thursday.
Some Senate Republicans have said they could introduce a similar measure.
Still, Trump would likely veto any congressional action to block the declaration. It is unlikely that opponents of the tariffs will have the votes to override a potential veto.
Trump’s first use of his veto power was against a congressional resolution to block his February emergency declaration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the draft emergency declaration, Trump writes that around 675,000 people have been apprehended or turned away at the border so far in fiscal 2019.
“More than three-fourths of the aliens illegally crossing our southern border are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. They often travel through Guatemala, cross Mexico’s southern border, and travel without restriction across Mexico before entering the United States,” reads the document. “The Government of Mexico is well aware of this problem.”